At the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) 17th anniversary celebrations, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said that the DPP and the 23 million people of Taiwan will jointly push for a new Constitution in 2006. This remark cannot be interpreted in isola-tion, because what Chen has offered is actually a "combo meal," consisting of four courses. Its meaning will show only in this complete framework.
The four steps, or courses, are: One, complete the first referendum in Taiwan's history. Two, win next year's presidential election. Three, win over half of the seats in the legislative elections in Decem-ber next year. Four, "give birth" to Taiwan's new Constitution.
This is not only a political development project, but also what Chen has to accomplish within an eight-year presidency. As Chen said, it takes the power of the people and society to accomplish each of the above goals. Perhaps Chen's comment was designed to consolidate public opinion.
What Chen has displayed is not only an eight-year blueprint for running the nation, but also a politician's vision. He clearly said where he is leading Taiwan in the next four to five years, how he will strive for Taiwan with the people of this nation and what his and the country's goals are.
He has finally endowed "the native son of Taiwan" with solid content and given the people his promise. His ideal matches the Taiwanese people's own will.
Both the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP) were quick to criticize Chen and his constitutional reform plan. They referred to his previous promises, such as his "five nos" -- no to an independence declaration, no change to the national title, no inclusion of former president Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) "special state-to-state" model of cross-strait relations in the Constitution and no referendum on independence-unification, no abolishing of the Guidelines for National Unification or the National Unification Council -- as well as to his "New Middle Way."
It is clear that the pan-blue camp does not understand that the time and situation have changed -- or that the people changed their views on "national identity" following the transition of power in 2000.
Chen's "New Middle Way" was proposed during the 2000 campaign to counter warnings from his rivals that "a [cross-strait] war would occur if Chen is elected." As for his other promises, they were made in order to deal with the old system left by the KMT's half-a-century rule.
If Chen is re-elected and if the green camp wins over half the seats of the legislature, who can say that the people cannot create a new Constitution that puts them at the center? The point is, each of Chen's steps needs the people's support. If Chen is re-elected, the best scenario for Taiwan is that the status quo remains.
The worst-case scenario is that Taiwan may fall into the "one China" trap of KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰), PFP Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) and Beijing. If that happens, the results would be too unbearable to predict.
Chin Heng-wei is editor-in-chief of Contemporary Monthly magazine.
TRANSLATED BY EDDY CHANG
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